Top 5 collectible Christmas cards

The festive season is rapidly approaching, and what better way to celebrate than with a look at the five most collectible Christmas cards around

5. The first ever commercial Christmas card

If you wanted to give your friends and family a Christmas card before 1843, your only options were to make do with one of the generic greetings cards that were sold all year round or make your own.

Henry Cole Christmas card
The monochrome version is the scarcer example

In retrospect it seems incredible that we have just one person to thank for the Christmas card, but had it not been for Henry Cole's brilliant idea we may well have had to spend the months leading up to the festive season hand stencilling snowflakes ourselves!

2,000 colour examples were printed and sold at a price of sixpence, with a handful made available in black and white. Around 15 are known to have survived to the present day - making them exceptionally rare.

A black and white example will auction at Henry Aldridge & Son on December 14.

4. Prince Charles and Princess Diana

A 1982 Christmas card signed by Charles and Diana is currently available at Paul Fraser Collectibles. It features a photograph of the couple holding a very young Prince William and is signed on the reverse with both their signatures.

Charles Diana card signed
The card is signed by both Charles and Diana

After what was widely described as the wedding of the century in 1981, the pair split in 1996. Diana died tragically in a car accident in 1997.

The card is particularly notable for the appearance of Prince William, who was married in equally lavish fashion in 2011. The birth of Prince George was accompanied by a tidal wave of media attention.

3. Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth (1895-1948) was a legendary batter for the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees who hit an unprecedented 714 home runs over the course of his career.

Babe Ruth Christmas card
The card features a superb example of Babe Ruth's signature

He is credited with popularising baseball in the 1920s, to the point where it is commonly described as the American national pastime.

A Babe Ruth signed Christmas card sold at Sotheby's New York in December 2010 for $6,500. It was sent by Ruth in the 1920s, as evidenced by his use of quotation marks around "Babe" - which he ceased to use later on in his career.

2. Malcolm X

Malcolm X left few autographs behind him, making examples such as the Christmas card currently selling at a US bookseller exceptionally rare.

It was penned by Malcolm X during the 1940s, years before he converted to Islam and began his incredible fight for the civil rights movement.

Signed "Malcolm Little", the card features a simple Christmas scene with snow and a sleigh and is priced at $9,500.

1. JFK

We recently sold a Christmas card signed by both John and Jacqueline Kennedy. Featuring a White House scene, the card is inscribed to the nanny of the couple's children: "For Miss Shaw - with our deepest appreciation and affection".

JFK Christmas card autographed
The card was delivered posthumously to Miss Shaw, who worked as a nanny to the couple's children

What moves it beyond simply being a fascinating piece of memorabilia from one of the most famous couples in history is the inscription that appears below their signatures: "Christmas 1963".

Unbelievably, this Christmas card was sent out almost a full month after Kennedy's assassination in Dallas. The president signed 31 known "posthumous" Christmas cards in total, none of which were sent - with our example being the only known exception.

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